I don’t mind going to the doctor. Heck, I don’t even mind going to the hospital. But say the word “Dentist” and I’m running in the opposite direction.
This Thursday I was forced to go there however, to get one wisdom tooth removed. Compared to getting four out at once, I shouldn’t have been petrified. But after having one bad experience as a child, I can never be too sure about these dentist types. I’d never been under anesthesia before and I certainly didn’t like the idea of having my face swell up like a balloon. But I had no choice.
My dentist is located in the town I grew up in, about forty-five minutes from where I live now with my grandparents. Fortunately, my dad’s best friend Nina lives in a neighboring town and took me to my appointment.
I couldn’t eat or drink for six hours before the surgery and by the time I was sitting in the waiting room at two o’clock in the afternoon, I could hear my stomach growling. Fear and hunger do not go well together.
When my name was called, Nina and I followed the male nurse and I took a seat in the reclining patient chair. Hanging above me was an IV containing the anesthesia and a metal table with an array of metal tools that I assumed were about to be entering my mouth in the next several minutes.
The doctor and nurse spoke with Nina about after-care and I sat there like a deer in the headlights. They kept calling Nina my mom but instead of correcting anyone, I stayed silent. Sometimes, it’s easier to let people believe what they want. Plus, it gives the illusion that I come from a normal family and sometimes it’s nice to pretend that I do.
The nurse took my vitals and before I even had a chance to become a complete nervous wreck, he asked for my glasses—leaving me completely blind and therefore, 100% helpless—and put on the strangest contraption over my nose that blew laughing gas into my face. The doctor said that it might make me giggle and that my fingertips would start to tingle. But even after a few minutes, I still wasn’t feeling any difference. Maybe I wasn’t breathing it in right. All I heard was the constant beeping of my vitals—it would slow down and then I’d remember where I was and hear the beeps come closer and closer together. After a few more minutes, the doctor asked if I was feeling the gas and I said that I thought I was. I told him I felt like a blob. He laughed, but I still don’t get the joke.
I heard the doctor tell me that I’d feel a pinch in my hand as he inserted the IV anesthetic and even though it hurt much more than a pinch, I couldn’t even move or groan in pain. I had succumbed to the weight of the laughing gas.
I waited to fall asleep like everyone told me I would, but it never came. Suddenly, I heard the doctor and nurse hammering away inside my mouth. I didn’t feel a thing but I was pretty certain I should have been sound asleep instead of being able to open my eyes and watch them. I knew somewhere in the depths of my mind that they were operating inside my mouth, but I just couldn’t be bothered. I was in la la land and before I knew it, the nurse was telling me that it was all over. I couldn’t believe it went so fast. I only learned later that they had been working on me for half an hour.
As they took the mask off my face and pulled the IV out of my hand, I still couldn’t move. The nurse asked for my “mom’s” cell phone number and that’s when I told him she wasn’t my mom at all. I gave him Nina’s number but I’m still not sure how I managed to even navigate my cell phone to find it.
A few minutes later, Nina came in the room and the nurse told me to try and sit up. I did and just sat there for a few minutes. My mind was working but my body didn’t care to respond. Nina and the nurse sat there staring at me and I wondered what they were waiting for. The nurse then told me to try and stand on my own. I guess they had been waiting for me! I started to get up but my legs felt like jello. Nina wrapped an arm around me and helped me back to the car but I’m still not sure how I made it there without falling on my face.
Nina drove me back to her house and I collapsed on the couch and immediately fell asleep. Any feelings of hunger had completely disappeared and I just lay under a white fluffy blanket surrounded by her cats.
When I awoke several hours later, I felt a throbbing pain in my mouth and remembered what had happened. Nina helped me wash my lips, which I didn’t even know were crusted over with blood.
With the pain in my jaw increasing, I took a pain pill and realized that I had a gaping hole of hunger in my stomach that needed to be filled immediately. Nina made me some scrambled eggs, which were much more challenging to eat than I anticipated. Regardless, I wolfed them down and then had a sweet potato and then even later, macaroni and cheese.
My uncle had been in the neighborhood and came by to see me. It’s hard to explain, but even though I felt groggy from the anesthesia and a lot of discomfort in my mouth, I felt completely content surrounded by both Nina and my uncle. I felt like I was being taken care of for the first time in a long while. Sitting with the two people my father was closest to was such a relief and a truly relaxing experience. In a strange way, it felt like my dad was in the room with the three of us, teasing me about the swelling in my cheek. Maybe getting wisdom teeth out isn’t such a bad thing after all. Plus, you can drink all the smoothies you want!